Posted by Holger van Eden
“Performance Budgeting in OECD Countries,” a recent publication of the OECD’s Budgeting and Public Expenditures Division, reviews the experiences of eight OECD countries (Australia, Canada, Denmark, Korea, Netherlands, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States) that have introduced performance information in the budget process over the past decade. The book is available in hard-copy and e-book versions at the OECD Online Bookshop (click link above).
The main author of this publication, OECD senior economist Teresa Curristine, discusses extensively the question of whether 'performance budgeting performs,' and not surprisingly, the answer is not that clear. There are many approaches to introducing performance budgeting reforms, and many reasons for doing so. As with many complex public reforms, the results are usually rather nuanced.
The short and cynical answer by the casual reader is perhaps “No, it doesn’t”, or not “Not enough, given the effort”, or “Not yet, even after many, many years of implementation.” The many nuances in this book do clarify that performance-based reforms can work in certain circumstances, but do leave interested governments a bit in the dark on what road to take in their country in further developing performance budgeting.